Translation and Verbal Mutation/ Word Play event
Translation and Verbal Mutation/ Whitechapel Gallery, Word Play event, February 2010
By Claudia Corrieri
‘Art’ and ‘performance’, my two favourite words hangin’ out together: Word Play, part of the Late Night programming at London’s Whitechapel, was a lyrical ode to the very idea. Even better, the girl sitting half on my shoes in front offered me a bite of her brownie. We were all hustled in for a suitably hippy-happy, carnivalesque affair in which the café/bar was transformed with the fizz of what Barbara Ehrenreich would call ‘collective effervescence’: audience and artists alike reading a running text, Translation and Verbal Mutation, this punctuated by an underscore of performance, sound and film by Michael Harding, Laure Prouvost, Emily Wardill and Lucy Woodhouse, among others. As if participating in a living chapter from a Dostoevsky novel, we produce, collaboratively, a polyphonic composition, a spinning concerto of words, notes, sounds, texts, exclamation and laughter.
Emily Wardill, Secs, 2007
We were all digging the free jazz, but Sal and Laure Prouvost’s Grandad played a clever muddle, simultaneously performance and performative, and quietly seducing the audience. While Sal apparently improvised delicate twangs of guitar strings, Laure whispered into the microphone the details of a search for her granddad, last seen “digging… to cross the channel… from his garden in North London… to Morocco…”, sucking the audience into the echoing tunnel of a tale. The work led to a filmic, auditory sense of ‘other’ space, akin to a Janet Cardiff audio journey, climaxing with Laure’s screamed “Grandad!” Oh, Derrida the dude, as the ‘drift’ he claims inherent to all communication is never more so apparent than between the truth of her words – knowingly more than a bit mad and surreal – and the tangible haunt of her having lost her granddad in a wormy tunnel. One couldn’t help but feel sorry for the character of Laure, a poor Alice, in an ever more Bonkersland.
And round we span. Although the event was smooth in its curatorial pace, at times there were winks to 1968, where once combustible energies had collided in an explosion of alternative and new media. As Lucy Woodhouse pumped out her Advert break, a live DJ set mixed from tracks popular in the corner shops of Bethnal Green, I was reminded of how once rock festivals and new slang had provided the dreamspace in which to imagine anew social spaces. Woodhouse energised the framing space of the interlude with multiple, layered soundtracks and ambient noise recorded from the streets themselves, alternately politicising the Whitechapel bar with an intentionally mashed-up ethnicity. The giddy techno projections, cut-and-paste screensavers of whizzing storefront signage taken from local betting shops and boozers, provided a critical tongue-in-cheek ‘advert’ to the otherwise enjoyable tunes of Nando’s, Coral and Currys.
Lucy Woodhouse, The Bethnal Green Fresh Mix
A short lineup of film and video works, skip-hopped to Emily Wardill’s impressively understated five-minute Secs (2007), which, playing time like elastic, stretched a slow reveal. A shadowed, static image of a side portrait christened by a fuzz of light joined the halo-heads of the audience lit only by the dim projector bulb. It was the audience working the projection of gender, profile and character to the intentionally unfocused slide, as the mumbling audio, seemingly recorded with lips uncomfortably sucked to and around the microphone, left autobiographical clues in a humorously dead and dumb drone: “department… but I get very easily distracted… I do a lot of metal detecting in my spare time”. A single furry image and a barely discernible vocal certainly, yet the film provided a character, a smile and an intuitively acknowledged cut.
Translation and Verbal Mutation / FormContent
Friday 28th May, 7.30pm
FormContent, 51–63 Ridley Road, London E8 2NP
An event on translation punctuated with texts, performance, sound and film by artists and writers experimenting with language and its parameters. Including works by ” “[sic] Tim Goldie, Patrick Coyle, Jennifer Hirons, Wojciech Kosma, Pablo Larios, Rebecca Page and others.
More information on contributors and performances coming soon.
This evening is part of the exhibition HaVE A LoOk! HAve a Look! at FormContent.